Announcing “Naked and You Clothed Me,” a second collection from “Homilists for the Homeless”

Some may remember that last year, Deacon Jim Knipper edited and published a collection of homilies and reflections for Cycle C, “Hungry and You Fed Me.”  The book featured work by (among others) James Martin, SJ; Richard Rohr, OFM;  and, um, me.

Today, the second volume in the trilogy (eventually set to cover all three lectionary cycles) has been launched: “Naked and You Clothed Me,” with homilies and reflections for Cycle A. In addition to the previous lineup, the list of contributors this time out also includes Greg Boyle, SJ; Dan Horan, OFM; Sr. Simone Campbell; and Pastor Rob Bell.  

As with the previous volume, all proceeds from sales are going to a variety of charities:

Bethesda Project began in 1979 when Father Domenic Rossi and members of his prayer group from Daylesford Abbey in Paoli, Pennsylvania, reached out to a group of women experiencing homelessness in Center City, Philadelphia. With the image of a caring family as their model, their greatest strength is in building long-term, trusting relationships with the most vulnerable among the homeless. Now after more than 30 years, Bethesda Project remains committed to their initial calling—to find and care for the abandoned poor and to be family with those who have none.

Dress for Success Mercer County promotes the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support, and the career development tools to help them thrive in work and in life. Finding work is only one step in a woman’s journey towards economic independence; remaining employed and building a rewarding career are essential if a woman is to become self-sufficient.

HomeFront began over 22 years ago when a pediatrician took notice of the bleak welfare motels, then dotting the highway leading into Trenton, NJ, where homeless families were crowded into single rooms. They had no food, and just the clothes on their back. And this one person decided to do what she could to fix it and since that day, HomeFront has done that, first by providing hot meals and organizing volunteers to get food and clothes to these families. With the help of well-trained staff and dedicated volunteers, HomeFront has grown to a multi-site organization with a comprehensive slate of programs. Their mission is to end homelessness in Central New Jersey.

Newborns in Need, Inc. is a 501(c)3 charity organized to take care of needy babies. Their volunteers provide care necessities such as blankets, sleepers, diapers, hats, and booties to agencies and hospitals serving premature, ill, or impoverished newborns. Newborns In Need distributes items free of charge to babies in the United States. Founded upon Christian principles of love and acceptance, NIN has provided essential items without charge to those in need since 1992.

Last year’s book made quite a splash—and won two awards for excellence in book publishing from the Catholic Press Association.  If you’re looking for a little spiritual nourishment for the year ahead, some homiletic ideas for preaching, or a nice stocking stuffer for that priest or deacon on your Christmas list…look no further.   As the CPA judges wrote of our first volume:

A fine compilation and true collaboration on the part of some exceptional homilists. Driven by the issue and awareness of homelessness, it is a remarkable array of moving homilies which touch any member of the Christian community.

Visit this link to order Naked and You Clothed Me.”    And: check out the “Homilists for the Homeless” Facebook page for the latest news on the book and its contributors.

I’m humbled to be a part of this extraordinary project, and can only echo what Robert Ellsberg says in the foreword:

It is easy to become preoccupied by the externals of faith and religious practice. This is no less true for us than it was for people during Jesus’ time. The message Jesus spread then is no less relevant for us today. We too must be constantly renewed and surprised by the astonishing news that love is at the heart of everything: God’s love for us, and the importance of returning that love through forgiveness, compassion, and service toward others, especially those who suffer.

This one sentence from Dorothy Day was the best sermon I ever heard: “The mystery of the poor is this: that they are Jesus, and what we do for them, we do for him.” It was nothing original. But because of the way she lived, and the way she said it, I believed.

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